Currently, workers in Albuquerque are protected only by the federal minimum wage of $5.15, a wage that was last raised by the United States Congress in 1997. Heinrich’s ordinance will affect the wages of an estimated 30,000 workers in Albuquerque, according to Leanna Fox of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. “There are many people making less than $6.75 per hour who work full time or more in order to support themselves and their family. Those people deserve this long overdue raise,” added Heinrich.
The ordinance was approved by a 6-3 vote by the Albuquerque City Council on April 20th, 2006 and was signed by Mayor Martin Chavez on April 27th, 2006. The ordinance phases in the minimum wage to $6.75 per hour on January 1st, 2007, to $7.15 per hour in 2008 and tops out at $7.50 in 2009. The first phase represents a boost of $1.60 or 31% above the current federal minimum wage. “This is an economic issue, but it is also a moral issue. What kind of city expects people to work two or three jobs, but still live in poverty? Albuquerque has made a moral choice to value work,” said Heinrich.
In coordination with community advocacy organizations and business groups, Councilor Heinrich worked diligently to craft a bill that is pragmatic in benefiting Albuquerque’s hard working low wage workers, while being sensitive to business concerns. The ordinance allows an employer who pays at least $2,500 annually for an employee's health-care or child-care benefits to receive a $1.00 per hour reduction in the minimum wage requirement. In addition, if a tipped-employee (tipped-employees in New Mexico are required to be paid a minimum hourly wage of $2.13) makes less than the minimum wage with their tips included, their employer is required to make up the difference. A mirror ordinance was approved by the Bernalillo County Commission and will take effect two weeks later, on January 13th, 2007, extending the policy’s reach to the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County.
Only three other cities in the United States have wage ordinances affecting private business above that of the state or federal minimum: Santa Fe, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Nineteen states throughout the country, however, have passed increases in their statewide minimum wages and it is expected that the New Mexico State Legislature will again take up this issue in the upcoming legislative session.
For further information, please contact Albuquerque City Councilor Martin Heinrich at 768-3152 / TTY 768-2474. Businesses can also receive legal consultation regarding the minimum wage from the Albuquerque City Attorney’s Office at 768-4500. A public notice about the minimum wage, required to be posted by employers in Albuquerque, can be downloaded at www.cabq.gov/clerk.
Albuquerque Minimum Wage FAQ
What is the Albuquerque Minimum Wage ordinance and when does it take effect?
On April 20, 2006, the Albuquerque City Council approved a phased-in minimum wage increase to $7.50 by a 6-3 vote. The ordinance was signed by Mayor Chavez on April 27, 2006. The ordinance requires that beginning on January 1, 2007, the City of Albuquerque enforce a minimum wage of $6.75 per hour, followed by a raise to $7.15 after one year and finally to $7.50 on January 1, 2009.
Where can I access the public notice about the minimum wage required to be posted by employers in Albuquerque?
A “Notice Of Minimum Wage And Employee Rights Under The Albuquerque Minimum Wage Ordinance for January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007” can be found in both English and Spanish at http://www.cabq.gov/clerk/.
Where can I access the actual language of the minimum wage ordinance?
A word document version of the five-page adopted minimum wage ordinance, O-06-20fin, can be downloaded from the City Council’s webpage at: http://www.cabq.gov/council/legportal.html.
How does the wage ordinance affect “tipped” employees?
The minimum wage for tipped employees for 2007 is $6.75, less tips actually received by the employee. However, the wages paid may not go below $2.13 per hour regardless of the amount of tips received by the employee.
What kind of benefit does an employer receive if they provide health care to their employee?
An employer who pays at least $2,500 annually for an employee's health-care or child-care benefits receives a $1.00 per hour reduction in the minimum wage requirement. The exact language of the ordinance reads: “For employers who provide healthcare and/or child-care benefits to an employee during any pay period for which the employer pays an amount for those healthcare benefits equal to or in excess of an annualized cost of $2500.00, beginning January 1, 2007, the Minimum Wage for that employee shall be an hourly rate of $5.75, in addition to the healthcare benefits and/or child-care benefits, beginning January 1, 2008, the Minimum Wage for that employee shall be an hourly rate of $6.15, in addition to the healthcare and/or child-care benefits, and beginning January 1, 2009, the Minimum Wage for that employee shall be an hourly rate of $6.50, in addition to the healthcare and/or child-care benefits.”
We offer health insurance to regular full-time employees. An employee is eligible for health insurance the 1st of the month following a 90-day waiting period, which begins on their hire date. While a regular employee is in the waiting period, must they be paid $6.75/hr or can they be paid less?
The credit for providing health insurance only applies once the insurance is actually being paid by the employer. If there is a period at the start of employment when the employee is not eligible for the insurance then the employee must be paid the minimum wage, $6.75, during that period. The ordinance is designed to encourage employees to obtain health insurance. The ordinance also recognizes that there are employees trying to survive on a minimum wage that cannot afford health insurance. If an employee declines to accept the health insurance offered, that employee must be paid the minimum wage of $6.75 per hour. If the health insurance is accepted and has a cost to the employer of $2500 per year, the minimum wage is dropped to $5.75 per hour.
Are there other cities in the country that have passed their own minimum wage raises?
Only three other cities in the United States currently have adopted have wage ordinances affecting private business, above that of the state or federal minimum: Santa Fe, San Francisco and Washington, DC. Other cities in recent years have adopted ordinances affecting only businesses with government contracts (i.e. Los Angeles) and others have adopted minimum wages above that of the state or federal minimum, only to see their respective states raise their overall wages to that city’s level or above. Examples of such states include Alaska $7.15; Arkansas $6.25; California $6.75; Connecticut $7.40, will rise to $7.65 January 2007; Florida $6.40, indexed to inflation; Hawaii $6.75, will rise to $7.25 January 2007; Maryland $6.15; Massachusetts $6.75; Minnesota $6.15 effective 08/05; New Jersey $6.15, will rise to $7.15 in October 2006; New York $6.75, will rise to $7.15 January 2007; Oregon $7.50, indexed to inflation; Rhode Island $6.75; and Washington $7.63, indexed to inflation.
How does the Bernalillo County Commission’s recently approved minimum wage ordinance affect that of the City?
A mirror ordinance was approved by the Bernalillo County Commission and will take effect two weeks later, on January 13th, 2007, extending the policy’s reach to the unincorporated areas of Bernalillo County. That ordinance can be accessed at http://www.bernco.gov//upload/images/minimum_wage_ord.pdf.